WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao today announced a series of efforts to combat human trafficking in the transportation sector. Secretary Chao was joined by leaders from Congress, state governments, and the transportation industry responding to this call to action.
“The U.S. Department of Transportation is committed to working with our public and private partners to fight human trafficking on America’s transportation system,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
Among the initiatives announced by Secretary Chao is a renewed focus on the “Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking” pledge to train the transportation workforce and raise public awareness on the issue of human trafficking across all modes of transportation. Secretary Chao is challenging the transportation industry to commit to “100 Pledges in 100 Days.” The Department anticipates over 1 million employees across all modes of transportation will be trained because of this initiative.
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, affecting millions of adults and children in the United States and worldwide. Victims are of every age, race, gender, background, citizenship, and immigration status. Some are trafficked within their own communities on various forms of transportation, while others are transported to new locations.
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To amplify counter-trafficking efforts, Secretary Chao established an annual $50,000 award to incentivize individuals and entities, including non-governmental organizations, transportation industry associations, research institutions, and State and local government organizations, to think creatively in developing innovative solutions to combat human trafficking in the transportation industry. The Department will review applications and determine the individual or entity that will most effectively utilize these funds to combat human trafficking.
Secretary Chao also announced $5.4 million in grant selections through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Human Trafficking Awareness and Public Safety Initiative. Twenty-four organizations across the country will each receive funding for projects to help prevent human trafficking and other crimes on public transportation.
To support the Department’s counter-trafficking efforts, the DOT Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking completed a report in July 2019 that recommends actions the Department can take to help combat human trafficking and best practices for states and local transportation stakeholders.
DOT's Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking (TLAHT) initiative was formed in 2012 for transportation and travel industry stakeholders to maximize the transportation industry collective impact on human trafficking. TLAHT’s focus areas are leadership, training and education, policy development, public awareness, and information sharing and analysis. Partners take action to combat human trafficking by issuing leadership statements, signing pledges, developing reporting protocols, training their employees, and conducting public awareness campaigns.